Imagine you are taking a walk in a park and you witness a mugging. What would you do? Would you look the other way or would you try to stop it? If you are one who would try to stop it, then what would you do when it is your government that is committing the crime? As citizens we are told that we should call our Congressman or write a letter to the editor when we are dissatisfied with our government. But writing a letter to the editor is no more effective at stopping the crimes of our government than it is at stopping a mugging.
On December 16th, 2010, I participated in an act of civil resistance in an attempt to stop my government from continuing to commit crimes—namely the ongoing wars of aggression in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. In the middle of a heavy snowstorm, I was arrested along with 130 other people in front of the White House who refused to move off the sidewalk when ordered to by the police. We were not violent, we carried no weapons, and we damaged no property. We were, however, willing to disobey the police as an act of resistance to our government; as a way of saying “No” to the senseless slaughter of innocent people; “No” to outrageous war profiteering, “No” to our government’s flagrant disregard of international law, ”No” to the squandering of hundreds of billions of dollars.
Although it is we who were treated like criminals—handcuffed, arrested and charged, we are not the ones ordering drone strikes or sending in troops. We are not the ones using illegal weapons and poisoning the earth. We are not the ones with blood on our hands. The real criminals continue unabated, shamelessly claiming that they are “making progress,” and unabashedly announcing that they plan to continue their crimes for many years to come!
None of us expected that these illegal wars of aggression would immediately stop due to our simple action, but we did hope that we would send a message--a message that there are citizens who do not support our government’s illegal wars and occupations; a message to the world that we are shamed by the actions of our government and we will do everything we can to stop it. It is our sincere hope that this action will be a spark that ignites the consciousness of others; that our refusal to obey and willingness to put our liberty on the line will give them the courage of their own convictions and they will also begin to act in resistance as well.
We will continue to defy and disobey, to resist and to rebel. We will not stop until the real criminals have been stopped. We will keep pushing the public to wake up to the horror of war and to take responsibility for ending it. We will rail against these crimes of inhumanity with all the force we can muster. We will continue to try with our voices and our bodies, to throw ourselves onto the machine of greed and killing.
“Failure to Obey a Lawful Order” is a misdemeanor and carries a maximum penalty of a $1000 fine. So what is the penalty for failure to obey international law?